#365 Liberty – 365

Name: 365
Brewery: Liberty
Style: Imperial Red Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

I’ll admit there have been times over the year when this project seemed insane. The days where I had “twenty-five posts to write” for example, or as I forced back beers while every cell in my body protested.

But every hangover, every dollar spent and every hour passed at my laptop seemed suddenly worth it last night.

Aside from a momentary panic that I could be “peaking” at 26, the end of blog party was probably one of the most enjoyable nights of my life. Thank you so much to everyone who came down to Galbraith’s to celebrate with me. It was so lovely to have all my family and friends – beery and otherwise – gathered together in my favourite pub.

And the beer. The beer! 

As Phil pointed out, it would have been p r e t t y awkward if I hadn’t liked my final beer, although with Liberty in charge there was never any real danger of that. Still, I’m happy to report that  – I’m going to annoy my parents one last time by swearing on the blog – it was fucking delicious.

To make “365” a hoppy Imperial Red Ale was a genius decision by Jo. Looking back over my year, the beers I first fell in love with were huge, highly-hopped IPAs, and then I steered away from them in favour of malt mosters. Eventually I decided I loved both, just so long as they were balanced.

I might be a total fluke, but “365” encompassed this journey perfectly. The fresh, fruity New Zealand hops were the perfect partner for the mouth-filling toffee malt, and it succeeded in being both rich and endlessly drinkable. It finished on a lip-smackingly crisp note – but without that lingering harshness that puts me off so many hoppy beers. Did I mention also that it was 8.5%? I’m pretty sure that made the party 85% more fun.

Plenty of clever sods have pointed out that this was a leap year, and so technically I should be doing 366 beers. Quite right, and that’s why Kate Jordan, Richard Jack and I brewed “Stickler”, a hoppy American Stout which we gave away at Galbraith’s last night. I saved a little to drink tonight, although I won’t be blogging about it because surely you’re sick of me by now.

I am actually going to write one last post in the next week or so, which will be a reflective, epilogue type thing. For now, I just want to say a ginormous, magnum-sized THANK YOU to everyone who has been with me on this journey. Your comments, tweets and even just page views were what motivated me to pick up the next bottle – so both the success of this blog and the possible failure of my liver are on you.

Oh God, I’m actually getting a little bit teary as I realise this is the end. My workmate is looking at me funny and I’m trying to pretend I’m just yawning. It’s OK – I have an emergency-sized can of DAB under my desk. I’m going to open that, and we’ll just say goodbye for now. I’ll see you next week at Beervana!

Published in: on August 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm  Comments (17)  

#333 Independent Liquor – Boundary Road Red Baron

Boundary Road Red Baron Name: Red Baron
Brewery: Independent Liquor
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Source: Waiheke Wines

If you go to Victoria Park New World and look at Boundary Road in the beer fridge, you can sort of see where it fits in to the whole brewing scene.

It’s not in the big fancy craft section – definetely not – but it is amongst the ‘craftier’ members of the commercial end. Mac’s, Monteiths, Boundary Road – they’re all together, probably not quite as close to the 8 Wireds and Epics as they’d like to be, but far enough from the Corona that they can still feel superior.

And the risk of over-extending this metaphor, I imagine Boundary Road averting it’s eyes as the NZ Pure passes by and waves – trying to pretend they do not come from from the same brewery, and that they did not once make out at a Vodka Cruiser illuminate paint party.

But where was I? Oh yeah. The Red Baron.

On the nose it was quite pleasant and smelled of caramel malt and citrus – nothing too punchy, but definitely real hops. On the palate it was a little disappointing – the mouthfeel was okay but it had a one-dimensional malt flavour, and a pithy bitter finish which I found a bit harsh.

All in all a bit meh I thought, especially for something marketed as a “Brewer’s Cut”. But then again, when you’re “cut” from the same cloth as NZ Pure, how good is it ever going to get?


Published in: on July 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm  Comments (4)  

#317 Rogue – XS Imperial Red Ale

Rogue XS Imperial Red Ale

Mini bottle. Not a giant head.

Name: Imperial Red Ale
Brewery: Rogue (Oregon, US)
Style: Imperial Amber Ale
ABV: 9%
Source:  Galbraith’s Alehouse

Micro-pigs. Mini hamburgers. Bonsais. Baby sneakers. Borrowers. Cocktail weenies.

Some things are meant to be small.

I don’t think that intro worked quite as well for me as it did in reverse for Epic, but you must agree that there’s something mystifyingly appealing about things that are 1/4 or so of their original size, no?

Or maybe it’s just me. Either way, I pretty much lost my shit squealing when I saw this 200 ml bottle of Rogue XS and (as you can maybe tell from the photo), would probably have loved it no matter what it tasted like.

But what a bonus! It was actually delicious as well, like they had crammed all the flavours of a full-sized beer into that tiny bottle, so that they would burst out, like a Jack in the Box, when I opened it.

The aroma was deep and rich, with notes of caramel, chocolate and  fruity hops. In the mouth it was malt-tastic without being overly sweet, with a little chocolatey roastiness and bitter hops cutting through the caramel. It was medium bodied and carbonated enough to not be sticky, so quite easy to drink despite the Imperial ABV.

At 9% it’s probably just as well there was only 200mls of it, but still it didn’t feel like quite enough. It was like when you think you’ve finished your coffee but there’s still one sip in the cup, and you can feel that something’s not quite right. I just wanted one more sip. Maybe two. Maybe 130 more mls. …

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

#216 Mt Froth – Out of Bounds

Name: Out of Bounds
Brewery: Mt Froth (Wanaka, NZ)
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Source: David Ball (homebrewer)

Remember how on Tuesday I vowed that I was going to catch up on my blog once and for all and never let myself fall behind again? Yeah, well, forget you ever read that because I failed horribly and am now more behind than ever.

It was Sunday night that I drank this, and I feel a bit bad because I was actually playing charades at the time and not writing notes like I should have been.

I remember thinking it was quite similar to my own Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone (only you know, better), and wondered if David had perhaps used NZ Cascade hops as well. It had a similar citrusy, fruity hop taste with lots of malt to back it up, and a nice balance of sweetness with a dry, lasting finish.

Apart from that I can’t say much else – just that it was tasty, quaffable, and gave me the magical powers I needed to win charades!

Published in: on March 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

#190 Mt Froth – Amber Wheat Ale

Name: Amber Wheat Ale
Brewery: Mt Froth Brewing Company (Wanaka, New Zealand)
Style: Amber Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Source: David Ball

So once again I have been a VBB (very bad blogger) and am five days behind on my posting, which means I will probably just be farting out posts that aren’t nearly as informative or pun-filled as I would like them to be.

Anyway, this is a homebrew that my friend David in Wanaka sent me. David is awesome at making beer and, as I mentioned in the past, went through the same food science degree at Dunedin that Kelly Ryan at Epic did. (BTW, did you guys know Kelly is leaving Epic and heading for Hamilton? Big big news. Read all about it here.)

Sadly David is moving to Perth for some reason (I hope he gets a job at Feral or Little Creatures!) so this will be the last batch of beers he sends me for a while.

This is the second hoppy wheat ale I’ve had in week, which makes me think I could be riding the crest of a new fad in beer styles. (Though its unlikely because I’m always really behind with these things.)

This tasted and looked marginally more like a wheat beer than the Haywired, but if I’d tasted it blind I doubt I would have guessed. It had a juicy hop aroma with some citrus, marmalade, and a faint whiff of doughy yeast.

In the mouth it had a great malty sweetness, really nicely balanced with a bitter finish, and a smooth fullish mouthfeel.

There was one problem for me though, and that was a rubbery, almost band-aid like taste that dominated the flavour. It’s something I’ve noticed in quite a few beers before – some home-brewed, some not, and although some people might like it I’m not so sure.

I asked Kelly Ryan about what this taste could be, and he reeled off about seven different possibilities which I can’t remember (this was at the end of a very long tasting session). Something about yeast or water or containers or beer.

Anyway, it still had a lot going for it and I suspect the band-aid taste could fade with more cellaring. Thanks heaps to Dave and all the best in Perth. Don’t forget to drink lots of fresh Hop Hog for me!

Published in: on February 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm  Comments (4)  

#143 Baja – Black & #144 Hacienda – Catrina

I’ve finally succumbed to holiday laziness and am blogging two beers in one post. I imagine everyone is too hungover from New Year’s to even think about beer however, so no one will see it.

(Except for my parents. Hi Guys! Oaxaca is awesome, will email soon.)

So both of these beers had a similar problem actually. When I poured them they fizzed up and gave a big head, then went completely flat.

Now – I’m no doctor, but I think this might be because I was trundling them around on cobblestone streets and shaking them all up. If that’s the case then I have 10 more flat beers waiting for me, and they’ll all be warm too since the hotels don’t have fridges. Turns out stocking up in Mexico City wasn’t the best idea ever.


The Baja Black (a 6% Shwarzbier) was really nice, despite being warm and flat. It had an aroma of dark stonefruit, licorice and roasty, chocolate malt, and in the mouth it was sweet with a dry finish. It lacked a little in mouthfeel, but I think it just needed some fizz.

The Catrina (Cerveceria Hacienda, Red Ale, 7%) did not fare so well. It needed to be cold and carbonated, but even then I’m not sure it would have been great. There was something slightly strange and sickly about the aroma – like caramel and feet, and the flavour, though not so bad, was a bit boring.


On the plus side – it had a nice bitter kick at the finish, and the label is cool.

So it’s New Years Eve in Oaxaca tonight, and I have a very good feeling about it.

The main square (zocalo) here has been packed with people eating, dancing and playing music for the last two nights, so tonight should be big. In preparation I’ve put a special bottle of beer that Rodolfo gave me into some coldish water, and once I’ve found a vessel to drink it out of, I’ll be ready to party!

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

#114 Coronado – Mermaid’s Red

Name: Mermaid’s Red
Brewery:  Coronado Brewing Company
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5.7%
Source: Galbraith’s Ales

I’m afraid I’m on the tipsier side of sober as I sit down down to write this blog (I’ll tell you why in the next post), so will try and get through this with as much grace and speed as possible.

Recognise those green walls in the back of that photo? Yeah. That’s my home-away-from home, Galbraith’s Ales. I was there to meet a friend for a beer (just one beer that turned into four), and, after the obligatory pint of Croucher Reserve, I picked this out as my beer for the day.

As soon as I smelled it I thought of those hard chocolate-covered caramel lollies that you get in dollar mixes (or at least you would, if it was 1997), so it was caramally and chocolaty, and a bit fruity too.

In the mouth there was caramel sweetness, more chocolate and stonefruit, and a slightly unusual flavour that I couldn’t put my finger on. The finish and aftertaste were bitter, and made me do that thing where you screw up your face and try to wipe your tongue clean on your lips. You know what I mean? No? I shouldn’t try to describe beer when I’m already half drunk? You are.

This wasn’t as bad as I make it sound – I actually enjoyed it just fine. But as I have mentioned in the past I am irrevocably in love with Coronado’s Islander IPA, and this one was a bit of a let down after that.

In other news, guess which effeminate child stars are trying their hands at brewing and releasing an IPA called MMMhop!?

It could only be…

If anyone has the means to acquire this beer and pass it on to me, I will shower you in gold, frankencense & myrrh(whatever that is) in return. Well actually probably not because I don’t have any of those things. But I would send you a free e-card or something.

Published in: on December 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm  Comments (1)  

#110 Inzane Brewing – Red Dwarf

Inzane Brewing Red Dwarf Name:  Red Dwarf
Brewery: Inzane Brewing (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Style: Aotearoan Amber Ale
ABV: 6.1%
Source: Inzane Brewing

Its cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere,
I’m all alone, more or less,
Let me fly, far away from here,
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, suuuun..

Sorry. Any mention of Red Dwarf and BAM – that theme song is in my head for two weeks. What a great show though eh?! And what a great name for an Amber Ale. Zane gets 10 points immediately for that and for having a photo of Rimmer looking like a prat on the label.

Of course, Zane has been getting points from others too recently – real points from real beer judges that actually mean something. When I saw on Twitter yesterday that Zane had been crowned Champion Brewer at the National Homebrewing Competition, I immediately rushed to put one of his beers in the fridge. It’s called keeping your finger on the pulse!

Zane probably would have preferred me to drink this a little earlier (he sent it to me a couple of months ago I think), but if it had suffered at all from it’s time in my cupboard then I couldn’t tell. The initial smell was of fresh juicy hops – like sticking my nose straight into the bag – then of a treacley malt, then of a whole  lot of other stuff that I couldn’t put my finger on. I did write down ‘pineapple, citrus, white pepper, fizzy lollies, golden syrup’ – but you can probably assume I’m wrong about all of these. Basically it was malty and hoppy and yum. The finish was bitter (but not overly dry) and the taste lingered after it was gone, like the Red Dwarf theme song.

I think I saw on Twitter that Zane has only been brewing for 6 months, which is pretty impressive and also probably pretty annoying if you’ve been brewing for ages and haven’t ever been crowned Champion. He’s nice enough to share his secrets though – and you can follow his brewing adventures (and get a run down of his NHC wins) on his blog here.

And because I don’t want to be the only one singing this for the next two weeks, I leave you with…

Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 10:43 pm  Comments (3)  

#89 8 Wired – Tall Poppy

Name: Tall Poppy
Brewery: 8 Wired
Style: India Red Ale
ABV: 7%
Source: Waiheke Wine Centre

Those who have been with me since the beginning might recall me going vaguely ballistic over my first 8 Wired beer – the lusciously tropical Hopwired.

Since then I’ve tried hard to tone down my swear words and exclamation marks, but  Søren Erikson (8 Wired’s Danish-born brewer) makes playing it cool pretty hard.

The Tall Poppy is the kind of beer that I’m loving most at the moment – packed full of that grapefruit/piney American hop flavour, but with just as much gooey toffee malt to support it. The mouthfeel is lovely – oily and full at first and then dry and bitter for the finish. It’s complex and bold with lots of personality, and suits its name to a T.

I’m not 100% sure but I’d say this is made with American hops, so I do hope it’s not going to be another casualty of TGAHS. Either way, I’d recommend hunting this down and trying some as soon as possible, because it really is f***ing delicious!!

Published in: on November 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm  Comments (3)  

#55 Deep Creek – Little Armoured One

Name: Little Armoured One
Brewery: Deep Creek Brewing Co. (Auckland, New Zealand)
Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 5.7%
Source: Deep Creek Brews & Eats

I’ve titled this post as Little Armoured One, but truth be told I drank five different beers at Deep Creek and didn’t make useful notes about any of them so this will  be fairly vague…

Deep Creek is a pretty new brewpub/restaurant on the waterfront at Browns Bay. I went there for the first time yesterday, and sat on a very comfortable leather seat near the fire and ate some calamari and drank a whole ‘paddle’ of beers. It was not the virtuous Sunday I had planned (which I think was going to involve buying running shoes), but dammit it was a good one.

6 x 200ml glasses for $22

They had run out of a couple of the Deep Creek beers, so the first one is a Moa Original and the third is a Moa Five Hop (which I really love on tap, not so much bottled).

I was really impressed with the Deep Creek beers. I wont try to tell you what they all tasted like (because I can’t) but they were all flavoursome and interesting in their own ways. Maybe my tastebuds were a bit off – but one unifying factor that they all seemed to have (particularly the pale ale and  brown ale) was an distinct flavour that was part rubber and part almond essence. That sounds gross, but really they were good!

The Little Armoured One is the 5th one along (at least I’m almost 90% certain it is), and is an amber ale. It’s made with amarillo hops (which is where the name comes from – armadillos/armour, geddit?) and might have been my favourite. It smells and tastes sweet and desserty, like toffee and chocolate, but is balanced out with a hoppy, bitter finish. I wish I could say more, but both my notes and memory are a bit patchy.

Oh, and the calamari – they nailed it. Next time I’m getting the ribs!

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 11:08 am  Comments (5)